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Anonymity removed on story comments

Aug. 6, 2011


Editor's note: The News-Press/ began testing a Facebook commenting feature late Wednesday night.

When I am out in the community I can always count on one question: Why do you allow people to be anonymous when they comment online?

Starting late Wednesday night we stopped allowing it on the stories that appear online.

We are one of two newspapers in our company to test Facebook comments. We will test it for 60 days and evaluate the results.

We are requiring people to use their names through Facebook and we hope this will restore some civility to the conversation.

A few have driven away many and we want to bring the conversation back to the community by the community.

Anonymous comments became fertile ground for hate and did little to move the conversation toward a solution. In some cases it sounded like spoiled children.

Here is an example of some recent emails we received.

"I am certainly willing to abide by The NP terms as long as others attacking me abide by them as well and are treated equally. The problem I see here is that (name deleted) has repeatedly violated this policy against me and has done so even in the same blog."

"(Name deleted) has done the same thing as well ('outing'), but has not been removed. The problem here is that you allow clowns like these to post anonymous personal attacks that are wholly irrelevant to the topic at hand and you do not remove them."

"It strikes me like your terms are being enforced very selectively and against the wrong people."

We hope to move away from the personal attacks to discussion. We think requiring the use of your name will cause you to think a little more before writing.

We hope the people driven away will return. We hope the conversations will shed light on events and bring the community together to solve its problems.

Why Facebook? Because we wanted to be able to verify the identity of the person and Facebook allows us to do it.

If you don't have a Facebook account, you can get one at Signing up for an account is quick, easy and free.

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If you are not on Facebook you will not be able to post a public comment on stories, but you can contact the reporter on most articles by clicking on their name.

Do you need to register for an account on news-press website to comment? No. All you need is a Facebook account to comment on articles published on

When you submit a comment, your friends on Facebook will be able to see it if you leave the "Post my comment to my Facebook profile" box checked.

People will be able to see your Facebook profile when you post, but what they see is determined by your Facebook privacy settings. Those settings allow you to decide how much information you want to share with your friends or others.

Will your Facebook profile picture and name appear on the comments page when you haven't posted a comment? If you're signed in at, your information will appear, but is not visible to anyone else until your comment is published.

If you still see an inappropriate or abusive comment just click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box. Choose one of the options to report a comment as spam or abuse.

This will be a test and with any test there may be bugs. Don't hesitate to make suggestions, tell us what you like and don't like and help us bring everyone into the conversation.

Terry Eberle is the executive editor of The News-Press. Call him at 335-0224 or email him at

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