Lowell blogger Richard Howe wrote a post last summer urging his anonymous commenters to identify themselves. He sent me an e-mail yesterday, and said that though he didn’t have much success, he does think the conversation at his site became more civil. Here’s an excerpt from what he wrote last July:

I’ve often said that local blogs are the modern day equivalent of the neighborhood coffee shop where everyone gathered to talk politics. These intensely local gatherings, duplicated hundreds of times around the city, provided a solid foundation for democracy at its most basic level.

But when neighbors gathered at the coffee shop to talk politics, they didn’t wear bags over their heads to mask their identities. In the same way, those who stay anonymous online are not making a positive contribution to this vitally important community building function of local blogs.

Well worth reading in full.