Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Ban anonymous comments to this blog?

A fan of the blog writes into suggest that I ban anonymous comments. I see you often draw out comments for use in posts, which caused me to actually start reading the comments. I found some of them to be interesting, but others have the regrettable internet quality of obnoxiousness (equating security personnel to Einsatzgruppen, ...

579100_091016_ricksb2.jpg
579100_091016_ricksb2.jpg

A fan of the blog writes into suggest that I ban anonymous comments.

I see you often draw out comments for use in posts, which caused me to actually start reading the comments. I found some of them to be interesting, but others have the regrettable internet quality of obnoxiousness (equating security personnel to Einsatzgruppen, etc...). This kind of nonsense I associated with "anonymous" commenters calling themselves "The Admiral," etc... A question -- do you require commenters on your blog to provide their real names to you before they start posting? Would it not keep up the quality to require people to identify themselves, to weed out the garbage that's so prevalent in most internet discussions? The anonymity of the internet can bring out the worst in some people."

A fan of the blog writes into suggest that I ban anonymous comments.

I see you often draw out comments for use in posts, which caused me to actually start reading the comments. I found some of them to be interesting, but others have the regrettable internet quality of obnoxiousness (equating security personnel to Einsatzgruppen, etc…). This kind of nonsense I associated with “anonymous” commenters calling themselves “The Admiral,” etc… A question — do you require commenters on your blog to provide their real names to you before they start posting? Would it not keep up the quality to require people to identify themselves, to weed out the garbage that’s so prevalent in most internet discussions? The anonymity of the internet can bring out the worst in some people.”

I like this idea, and am tempted to implement it. I have two concerns. First, it might deter some knowledgeable people from sharing, especially active-duty military. Second, how do I know if someone is using a real name? Even if I required an e-mail address that can be faked in about 30 seconds. I’d have to require contact information — and even that can be faked.

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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