What are your thoughts on tweaking comments?

I’m thinking of making a tweak to commenting on Media Nation. Rather than requiring real names, first and last, as I have since 2010, I might shift to requiring online verification instead.

There’s a function I can turn on that would require people to sign in using their Facebook, Twitter, WordPress or Google Plus account before commenting. I would still screen comments before posting them. But no longer would I be tracking people down to remind them to use their full names — something that causes me to lose a fair number of comments.

Most of the commenting energy has shifted to Facebook anyway. (If you don’t follow the conversation when I post a Media Nation link on Facebook, you’re missing a lot. You can follow my public feed by clicking here.) But I feel like I need to give the on-site comments a jolt.

A word about Facebook: If you comment on Media Nation using your Facebook account, your comment will not appear anywhere on Facebook. It’s simply a log-in mechanism. Still, I have no doubt that Facebook tracks you for its own internal advertising purposes.

As for the alternatives, logging in with WordPress is probably the most benign. WordPress is part of a nonprofit organization and it’s not a social network, at least not in the sense that the other three are. You can sign up for an account without having to start a blog. If you’re comfortable posting comments in public, then you shouldn’t have any problem registering with WordPress.

Thoughts?

Correction: WordPress.com’s owner, Automattic, is in fact a for-profit company. See this comment.

15 thoughts on “What are your thoughts on tweaking comments?

  1. Betsy Yates

    WordPress.org is a nonprofit that delivers the WordPress software. But the the WordPress.com used for logging in is run by a for-profit (Automattic). If it’s free, you’re the product.

  2. captnmike

    I don’t do Face Book & not a Twitt, might have a Google+ something account, but can’t remember for sure. I am logged in with my WordPress.com account normally and since I am one of those that has forgotten to leave a name etc. WordPress.com would be easier for me.

    Just a note to others, all WordPress.com requires to open an account is a valid email account that they send a confirming email to with a link verifying that you really want an account with them. Simple and painless. To get a web site linked to the account you need to add it. they are big on privacy and nobody can use the account name to send you an email etc. You can go to some linked area and add contact info if you want, I did not, but my profile does link to my web site.

    So the change would be fine by me & easier
    Mike Brough

  3. annatarkov

    This seems to be the standard on many, many sites. I don’t see a problem with making this change.

  4. annatarkov

    This seems to be the standard on many, many sites. I don’t see a problem. I think it’s far better than some sites’ inexplicable decisions to make comments an option via Facebook ONLY.

  5. James Harvey (@jmhredsox)

    I’d support the change, but in my experience, WordPress doesn’t have the real-name culture that Twitter and Facebook do. (The real name policy on Media Nation always struck me as well intentioned, but somewhat meaningless. “James Harvey” is a fairly common name, but “jmhredsox” (my twitter handle) is more or less unique to me, and has been for nearly two decades. As new services arise, it’s often tempting to use a more professional ID, but for the sake of online continuity, I tend to stick with my standard handle.

  6. Al Fiantaca

    I’ll continue to be a loyal reader, but will not participate at any site that requires me to use a Facebook login or any of the other ones named. I don’t want to be forced to join those services in order to take part in other unrelated communities.

    1. Dan Kennedy Post author

      @Al: This is still open for discussion, but if you’re not willing to register at least with WordPress, I’m surprised that you’re willing to log on to the Internet. I would never require people to register with Facebook, as there are definitely some downsides to that.

      1. Al Fiantaca

        I’ve been online for some 20 years. When I first started out, I signed up for lots of junk, and participated in the Usenet until I got overwhelmed with 100s of spams every day. I learned not to do that, and how to protect my privacy. Now, I’m much more reluctant to put my name and address out there, and just do it for a select few. Going through the social media sites is one of those things I’d rather not do. I might consider WordPress, but prefer things the way they are now.

  7. Cynthia Stead

    DK – if what you want are real first and last names, you won’t necessarily get that with Facebook. Many people have more than one account, which they use for different purposes – one for work-based Facebook pages, one for informal and personal, another for blithely making smart remarks, etc.. I think your original intent was to know who commenters were, and make them own their comments. Your current policy does that, but a FB login may not. But it’s your blog, and your rules.

    1. Dan Kennedy Post author

      @Cynthia: I suspect Facebook is better at enforcing its real-names policy than I am. As I said, registration would move Media Nation from a real-names identity to a verified identity, which may be just as good. I don’t know. I’m really up in the air about this. In the end I probably won’t change anything.

  8. Mike Benedict

    I don’t feel strongly about this either way. I am one of the few holdouts who does not have a Facebook account. I do have a Twitter account, but I don’t actually “tweet”; I use it to follow people and various news organizations. I guess the question for you, Dan, is whether you see value in moving all your posts to a single forum (Facebook). For now, it doesn’t appear you are leaning that way, but I can see the pain of having to administer multiple sites. (I know enough about Facebook to know things can get very heated even when people use their real names, which I think shows that many folks are still trying to figure out the online medium.)

    This doesn’t apply to you, really, since you are considering multiple avenues for registration, but one thing all media outlets should consider is the aging demographic of Facebook (yes, Facebook). To tie themselves to a single entry point when that entry point is no longer the primary vehicle for most of the under 25 crowd seems short-sighted.

    1. Dan Kennedy Post author

      @Mike: I can’t imagine forcing people to use Facebook. There are too many people vehemently opposed to signing up.

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