Another Take on the Online Commenting System

by Kim Taylor

My business partner and agency CEO Roger Pynn recently gave kudos to the Orlando Sentinel’s Mark Russell for how the paper is continuing to evolve their online commenting system.  Like many sites, the Sentinel requires users to register before commenting, which presumably helps prevent those who use anonymity as a shield to fill the pages with often toxic comments.

Gawker Media, the parent to hugely popular sites like Gawker, Jezebel, Lifehacker, has taken a different approach entirely … giving the power to the people … whether they reveal their identity or not.

Commenters who prefer to identify themselves can use the site’s “Burner” tool, which lets users enter a pseudonym to begin commenting.  The pseudonym is then linked to your device along with a key that’s generated randomly (in case you want to comment from different devices).  Burner doesn’t require a name, email address or password.

Additionally, Gawker’s letting users moderate users, essentially giving the power to the first person to comment on a particular story.

It certainly does “fly in the face of conventional media wisdom” as said by Nick Denton, founder of Gawker Media.  His reasoning:

“We’ll accept some disorder if that’s the price of freedom in one’s personal life, in politics and the press.”

What do you think?  Which approach do you prefer?

4 Responses to Another Take on the Online Commenting System

  1. Kerry Martin says:


    But seriously, I think anonymity allows people to be more reckless online without having to take accountability for something that is published on the internet. On the other hand, it does allow someone to state their opinion (which can be done in a civilized and respectful way) and not worry that their employer/friends/family might hold opposite viewpoints.

  2. Roger Pynn says:

    The civility problem has very little to do with the anonymity granted by the Internet and more to do with general society progression down the sewer. Ever wonder what percentage of people get their training on how to behave in public from an NBA game or WWF match? Scary.

  3. My personal opinion is if you have something to say, be transparent about who you are and support your comment.

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