Anonymous comments

(Random thoughts ahead)

Now that we have a way for users to post with their authentic Gamertag (details here) I am wrestling with what to do with anonymous comments. First, anonymous comments are a spammer’s feast. Fortunately, much if it is caught before you even see it, but it’s still wasteful from a server and bandwidth point of view. Ever since I have had comments I have had the ability for users to post anonymously, but after reviewing the database, I have noticed that a extraordinary high number of anonymous comments are from a relatively small number of I.P addresses. Is it also a coincidence that many anonymous commenter tend to be, how to do say this, less tactful with their vulgarity?

Don’t interpret this as ‘Major can’t take negative feedback’…since many of the registered users here are quick to give me both positive and negative feedback and those comments appear on the site. I welcome all forms of constructive criticism and feedback. But I am starting to think that if you have something to say, you have to identify yourself…even if that is just a Gamertag. Sure, you can argue that Gamertag are free (which they are) and they won’t stop someone so is this just putting up a speed bump in the process? I have been thinking about this frequently, and I like what Shel Israel calls the ‘Living Room Policy’ which quite simply means that if you are a guest in someone's house, and you were rude, the host would ask you to stop. That’s pretty much what I do today, although I take it a step further and say please don’t attack each other…but feel free to direct your comments to me. (How many hosts let you attack them in their house?) But what about the anonymous posters? Most of them enjoy hiding behind the anonymous cloak, but do they add value to the conversation? I don’t know.

One approach, that I mentioned on my show last week, is that I may allow anonymous comments….but we would inject a significant amount time between the time that a post was made, and the time that it appeared on the site..say 12 hours or more. Registered users would have their comments pretty much posted immediately* (as long as they don’t have any vulgarity that the spam software automatically flags and flushes.)

I have thought long about this for many weeks, but as is my style, I wanted to turn to my readers to ask them what they think. I am not sure what direction to take here, and pose the issue to the community.

P.S. I want to be very clear, any information I collect when you register your Gamertag (mainly your email address) is used strictly for the registration process. I will never share them with anyone at anytime. Period.

*I say pretty much, since we have some pretty heavy duty caching to allow us to serve as many pages as we do and sometimes comments don’t appear immediately.