Per “Anonymous’s” “advice”, but for different reasons (i.e., I was tapped out and wanted to avoid writing out of mere pride), I pooled my network of experts for assistance on the debate. They’re all unanimous on two points.
First, as Fr. Vonhogen of SQPN put it:
“Your anonymous interlocutor might be confused as to who should talk to a
priest or a theologian.”
Second, “don’t debate with anyone who’s anonymous.”
I have always allowed anonymous posting, because I can understand people not wanting to have to sign up for an account just to post one comment. I’m also not a big fan of “word verification”.
At first, I made no posting restrictions and got spam. Early on, I got some rather antagonistic “Anonymous” posts.
So then I switched to comment moderation, which a couple people in the past two days have recommended. My problem with that is that it can also be a bit intimidating.
So I dropped comment moderation (I can always delete) and went to word verification. Word verification stops spam but it doesn’t stop “Anonymous.”
And, in the four years since I started this blog, a lot has changed. There’s now OpenID. There’s also the ability to just create a screen name without an account. And plenty of people have blogger accounts that they just use for commenting and nothing else. Lastly, plenty of people do not sign up for accounts but post on blogs officially as “anonymous,” then sign some kind of first name or pseudonym at the end of the post, so at least people have something to address them by.
Pseudonyms are great, but posting totally anonymously gives a certain power to the commentor. First, it puts “dialogue” on an uneven footing. Going by the old Hebrew principle, when you use a name, it creates a certain power. Even a nickname or pseudonym has the same effect. But one party being totally nameless, while the other party is addressed by name (or nickname, or pseudonym) puts the anonymous party in a certain level of control.
Plus, if a discussion should involve multiple comments, anonymous posting causes confusion.
Therefore, I’m adopting a policy whereby *some* sort of registration is required. I think most people online now have *at least* a Google, Yahoo or AOL account, not to mention several of the other options on OpenID.
Plus, coincidentally, I had just signed up for an account with a second service for tracking my traffic. This new one allows me to see how many visits I get, based upon various criteria including location and ISP or IP address.