Since we began operating about seven months ago, readers have regularly recommended that we require those who comment on Oak Ridge Today to use their real names.
In the beginning, this wasn’t much of an issue. Most people who commented on our site used their real, full names. And our readers said they appreciated that.
But recently, it seems that an increasing number of readers, maybe even most, have commented using pseudonyms.
This was not our intention. We had hoped that most people would continue to use their real names. However, we haven’t posted a comment policy that required this.
We are now. We would like to ask readers to use their real names when commenting on stories on Oak Ridge Today. We are hopeful that this will help keep the conversation civil and add credibility to the comments that are posted here.
Trying to keep comments civil is an ongoing struggle for many media companies. We don’t think it’s been a significant issue for us so far, and we realize that requiring real names won’t guarantee civility in the future. But we think it’s a start.
It also makes our policies consistent. Right now, we require letter writers to use their real names. We don’t think it’s fair to enforce that policy while allowing comments to be posted anonymously.
We are aware that this policy could cut down on the number of comments on Oak Ridge Today. But for us, it boils down to this: We’re accountable for what we write here, and we think you should be accountable for what you say here.
We have participated in discussions with other independent online publishers about commenting policies. As you might expect, there are a range of solutions. Some have had good experiences with requiring real names, and we’d like to try to emulate their work.
We have observed that some larger media companies are also switching to policies that ask those who comment to use real names, often by using social media plugins.
We apologize to those who have posted anonymously on Oak Ridge Today and have usually or always been positive. We’re hesitant to make this change because of you. However, we think this policy is in the best long-term interest of this site.
We recognize that there are times when someone may want to comment on an issue but might not be able to do so publicly, often because of their employment. If that’s the case for you and you have information you want to share, you are always welcome to send it to us in an e-mail using this site’s contact form (in the header at the top of every page) or directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some other commenting guidelines. They are subject to change.
- Be civil.
- Please stick to the issues.
- Don’t insult others or attack their character.
- Keep your comments to a reasonable length and exercise restraint in how often you comment on a single issue. Sometimes, brevity makes a message more powerful.
We reserve the right to remove comments that violate those guidelines or contain any of the following:
- Potentially libelous statements.
- Threats or obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Promotions of commercial products.
You are welcome to give us feedback on our commenting policy by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
Thank you for reading Oak Ridge Today.