Journal-World websites to require commenters to identify themselves
To our readers: We are changing the system we use to allow readers to comment on stories. We are ending anonymity and will require commenters to post using their real names.
We are doing this in response to countless requests from readers who want us to provide a more civil, responsible forum for discussion. We have received numerous complaints that comments on our sites are too frequently filled with extreme speech, insults, name-calling, misleading statements and other behavior that is made possible and even encouraged by anonymity.
By requiring the use of real names, commenters will be personally responsible for what they post on the site for others to see.
Beginning Thursday, users who want to comment will be required to link their accounts on ShawneeDispatch.com, TonganoxieMirror.com, BasehorInfo.com, BaldwinCity.com, BonnerSprings.com and our other sites to their Facebook accounts. This will NOT make comments on our sites visible on Facebook, but it will provide us with a method to validate user accounts and real names. Facebook does not allow its users to create fake profiles. Those who want to post comments on our sites without a Facebook account will not be able to. Additionally, we reserve the right to contact users directly to further confirm their accounts.
It's important to note that this change in our registration system in no way affects anyone's ability to read our sites, subscribe to e-mails or otherwise participate in our sites. The real-name requirement applies only to those who want to post comments or other types of content that will be publicly visible on our site.
We did not make this decision lightly. It follows months of consideration and study of what other sites are doing to handle the increasingly thorny issue of anonymous comments. Many other sites have been modifying their comments sections to make commenters more accountable and attain a more civilized tone of discussion. Just in the past few weeks, ESPN.com, USAToday.com and the Kansas City Star's kansascity.com have adopted similar Facebook-based comment registration.
It's important to note that comments already on the site will remain in place. But when existing commenters link their accounts to a Facebook account, all of their previous comments will then appear under their real names. Users who wish to avoid this should create a new account using their real name and link that new account to their Facebook account. That will preserve the anonymity of their previous comments.
We will continue to enforce our terms of service for comment behavior. Anyone wishing to contact us anonymously and privately to give us a story tip or other communication can still do so by clicking the "Submit" menu in the navigation above, and choosing "Story idea."
There's more information about the new comment-registration policy in our FAQ. If you have any questions or thoughts about what we're doing, please direct them to Managing Editor Julie Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you may leave a comment below.